There is no doubt that Africa has been hugely hardly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Not, thankfully, by a high level of infections (see more on this from the BBC here), but more from a total lack of tourism which is vital to many African economies.
It will come as no surprise that in almost all of the countries we work with there is virtually zero social security. Jobs working in safari camps or beach lodges are highly prized, and supports 8-10 dependents. With no guests, there are no jobs, and with no jobs feeding your family becomes pretty terrifying.
As those of you who have been to Africa will know, our colleagues and friends who work on the ground are incredibly determined and imaginative and capable of working miracles in the most adverse of circumstances. Their commitment to supporting their staff, the wider communities and conservation projects is nothing short of inspirational.
Offbeat Mara is beloved of Extraordinary Africa guests, and the pioneering conservancy concept around the Masai Mara has inspired community tourism projects across Africa. Protecting areas beyond the national parks helps preserve vital habitat- it is crucial that these are preserved for wildlife. The Adopt-a-Plot programme helps to continue this magnificent work (and if you donate $800 or more this can be used as a travel credit for your next safari- win-win!)
It’s not just communities who suffer from lack of safari guests- without the (sometimes considerable) park and conservancy fees that guests pay, there’s simply no money to pay rangers. Without them, wildlife is seriously vulnderable to poaching, especially during a time when many people are out of work and bushmeat is widely available. Ride4rangers raises money to fund salaries for staff on the front line of conservation- you can donate to the cause yourself, or if you’ve had enough of sitting still during lockdown, you can create your own challenge to raise funds- read more about it here.
Lastly, if you are based in the UK, please help! At the time of writing the UK government has blindly extended a blanket ban on travel to anywhere in mainland Africa, despite the fact that coronavirus levels are generally far lower than in the UK or in other European countries where the UK has travel corridors. For us, this seems unreasonable- as many countries have both a rigorous testing system and low levels of cases. For example- the EU includes Rwanda alongside just 8 other “third countries” (including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) that travel restrictions should be lifted for. Sign the petition to encourage the UK government to reconsider here.